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So NASA announced that they're harvesting the Zinnias that astronaut Scott Kelly successfully grew on the ISS, and they also had a really cool backgrounder article on the story of plant-growing on the ISS that I liked because I could see the direct implications for future space missions. Apparently there have been other plants and flowers in space including one ISS 'naut's personal project where he grew them out of ziplock sandwich bags, as well as the batches of cabbage that Kelly and crew were able to eat a couple months ago. The plan is ultimately to grow tomatoes on the ISS by 2017. One of the comments in the articles that I found really interesting was that, in addition to being a dietary supplement, they're hoping that having plants and a zero-g garden will be good for the crew's mental health. My questions are: a)How significant an achievement are these Zinnias compared to the cabbage and the tomatoes? I wonder why they didn't just start with tomatoes, given everything else that they've grown? b)What kind of roles do you see plants serving on long-duration flights (i.e to Mars)? Just a small hobby for the 'nauts? Or a significant dietary supplement? Or large enough to function as life support food and CO2 scrubbing? c)Given that all of our food is (currently) grown under gravity on earth, what kind of traits should we change in the plants (DNA-engineering?) so they can flourish in zero-G? I know humans have a number of cardio and skeletal issues that hinders long-term spaceflight, do plants like tomatoes have any equivalent major weaknesses? (I figured this topic would have been covered before, but I didn't turn up anything when I searched. If the general topic is a duplicate, focus on the Scott Kelly ISS mission part!)